My first High Altitude Trek: Deoriatal – Chandrashila – Part 3

Date: 25 March 2018

Second day of our trek. We woke up at 5 am, finished breakfast, packed all our bags and started for Chopta around 7.30 am which was our next campsite. One thing I must really emphasize on is the food prepared by the kitchen staff of Indiahikes. Never have I eaten such tasty food and such variety even! With limited water stock or having to walk long distances to fetch water for cooking, to having to carry large loads of ration from one campsite to other, to having to trek fast to reach the campsites before the trekkers reach and to keep hot food ready for them, to also making sure if any particular food preferences are there for those people, the kitchen staff is just so amazing!

They prepared food keeping in mind all the exact kind of nutrients that must go into our body to prepare it for trekking and also kept our sweet tooth happy by preparing amazing desserts like fruit custard, jalebi and what not! We were rewarded with gulab jamun after our summit, we were served popcorn too! It really crossed way past my expectations.

The trek started and initially was just a gradual walk into the nature. After our first break started the actual ascent to the top, it was a rocky trail which resembled stairs.

This was by far the toughest climb in 2 days for me and by the time we all reached the top almost all were exhausted. But the exhaustion was soon forgotten by the view we were presented at the top. After a short break, we again continued our exploration towards the woods. On the way we could spot some local women carrying a basket full of leaves on their back; collecting and taking these back was a part of their daily chore.

Around 1 pm in the afternoon we reached Rohini Bugyal (Bugyal means meadow) and what a place it was! Surrounded by lush greenery upon which pink Rhododendrons rested like ornaments, crowned by the mountain peaks. It was really a blessing to be able to sit and enjoy lunch at such a location. We were told that previously the campsite used to be here but then was moved to Chopta as Govt. had banned camping on meadows as it spoils it and would restrict the growth of grass where the tents were pitched.

Lunch scenes in this video here.

Fun fact- Did you know that the colour of Rhododendrons change as per the altitude. They are red at 1200 – 2700 mts, Pink at 2600 – 3300 mts, White at 3000 – 4800 mts. Cool, right! And they look much more beautiful in real than in the pictures below.

With no mood to leave this place, we forced ourselves up and again into the woods. It was around 1 hour more into the forest when we were asked to stop suddenly and wear our ponchos (Similar to raincoat but designed in a loose fit way in order to be able to trek easily). We were confused but still followed their instructions. No sooner did we put on our rain gears, it started to rain! One really has to admire the skill of the guides since they could easily predict the rain based on cloud and wind movements and we were saved from getting drenched. We started moving and then further amazed to find really small snow flakes falling on us!

For most of us it was the first snowfall we were experiencing in our lives and obviously we all were excited, trying to take photos and videos even though we knew our gadgets were getting drenched :P. Gradually, the intensity of snowfall started to increase. We were enjoying walking in the snow and within no time our trails had turned from green to white. At one point here I was so tired that I was literally dragged by Rahul telling that the rest point is in 5 more minutes (which did not come until 20 minutes later) so much so that I just collapsed under a tree as the snowfall further increased.

Then after we started it slowly started turning into a small storm and at one point I could not see anyone behind me or in front of me. I kept on walking till I found Rahul and 5-6 people waiting. He asked me if anyone else was behind and I said no. So there we were, entire group split up! The guides had a walkie to talk as there was no other network and as per our knowledge the group was now splitted to 3 groups; we being the front ones and each group guided by Rahul, Bhupi and Chachaji. We had to stick to Rahul who was helping us navigate through the heavy snowfall, my vision was also getting blurry because of the snow on my specs but we continued.

Find this video here from the situation.

On the way we encountered a stream we had to cross, and we were supposed to fill our water bottles which we all did and again continued. After about an hour of trudging through the snow, we came out of the forest trail into the road. We were kind of relieved but the storm seemed to get bigger and had turned into a hailstorm. The winds were hitting us ever so more because now we were entirely in the open. Holding our ponchos dearly and keeping our heads down we kept on walking. After almost 30 minutes we had to descend down and could see far down which seemed like our Chopta campsite. We were completely drenched and shivering by the time we reached our tents.

Chopta campsite

So we were told to first go and change our clothes and come to kitchen tent after that. Even though I got changed to warm clothes I was still feeling very cold because of the weather. Fingers were freezing even though I had worn gloves and socks. We then went to kitchen tent to be served a hot cup of tea and noodles. For sometime I just sat there hugging the tea pot making my fingers warm :P. Also serving tea for people who came in next. Then we were in the kitchen tent playing some random games and having fun.

After an hour or so, Bhupi arrived with the second batch of trekkers and after another half an hour arrived the last group along with Chachaji. They all were delayed because of the storm. Whenever we used to see them approaching we used to go and record their videos teasing them why they were late and pulling their legs :P. By the time these people had tea and took rest, we went around to explore the campsite and found some hut ruins and also the skeleton of a goat!

Then around late evening all of played volleyball for a while until it became fully dark. Then it was party time! The campsite was in a completely secluded area, with no one here apart from us. So songs were put in the speaker and all of us formed a circle and started dancing. The dance really helped warm up our bodies in that chilly weather. Then we were served hot dinner along with ginger water (which was amazing btw) after which we all slept, done for the day. We slept very early around 8 pm as we had to wake up at 4 am in order to proceed towards Summit the next day.

Thank you so much for reading till here, do like and share if you liked any part of this series 🙂

Click here for the next blog which is also when we summitted Chandrashila peak!

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